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Poster: Tidewater four ten O nine Date: Sep 12, 2012 7:25pm
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: Tape-flips (probably a stoopid question)

Thanks, but I'm not convinced. I've seen photos of Dead Head Monte's 'reel-to-reel' recorder and I'm sure that this (and others) could go for more than 40 minutes.

Also, there's loads of seamless recordings of Set 2's from this era where the Dead played continuously for what seemed like almost infinity and certainly longer than 40 minutes. Where there are gaps between songs I can see how tapes were swapped between songs and some sort of fading carried out so as to smooth the join, but not where they played without a break (song 1 -> song 2 -> song 3, etc.,).

You might be right and thanks for the input but, for now, I'm keeping an open mind.

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Poster: R Pal Date: Sep 13, 2012 3:17am
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: Tape-flips (probably a stopiid question)

Would you direct me to some of the tape machine photos you mention? I was involved with an amplifier company at that time and may recognize the machine and/or tape type. The different reel types and the speed switches may be recognizable.

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Poster: Tidewater four ten O nine Date: Sep 13, 2012 3:40am
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: Tape-flips (probably a stopiid question)

Here's a photo of a tape machine that stuck in my mind. It was uploaded to the forum as part of a post by a chap called Dead Head Monte. I accept that this one dates from after the show I first mentioned and was obviously not available for the early shows comprising the Dead's history but, like I said, the picture stuck in my mind.

Another memory that sticks in my mind is of one review of a show on the archive (sorry but I can't remember which one) where a couple of tapers were so sure that they were gonna get searched and lose their kit (during a time when taping was discouraged), that they entered the venue the day before (I think it was something like a sports arena) and buried their tape machine and supporting kit a foot or so in the ground. The day of the show, they turned up (apparently without any taping gear), got in, found the place where they buried it, recovered it and came out with a great recording. That story always makes me smile, but it could have gone horribly wrong.

Thanks for your response.

Attachment: My_VPR-5_007.jpg

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Poster: Monte B Cowboy Date: Sep 13, 2012 8:39am
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: Tape-flips (probably a stopiid question)

The photo you attached is a VPR-5 tape deck. It is a one-inch, type-C format, portable VTR (video tape recorder). Co-developed by Ampex & Nagra in early 1984, the portable VPR-5 tape deck won an Emmy Award for Technical Excellence. I was working for Ampex as a field service engineer during this time period. The photo shows the VPR-5's reel-hubs in the "outward" position, allowing for larger tape reels to be used. Normally, smaller-sized reels (spot reels) were used, and the reel hubs were in the "inward" position.

I included discussion threads about reel-flips in my Taper's Handbook:
Note: Reel-flips and reel-changes are similar. But they are two different things. Also note, the "reel-changing" sequences for reel-to-reel tapes and decks are different than the flipping and/or changing sequences on cassette tapes and decks.
Ampex equipment has been involved in at least two "extreme-engineering design-breakthroughs" that addressed the reel-changing issues for taping live shows in the field on reel-to-reel tape recorders. The VPR-5 was a great example of this being addressed for TV broadcasters and video production crews in 1984. For the GD, Ron Wickersham designed and built another Ampex example in 1972. Preparations were being made for a big European Tour and a live album with the Grateful Dead. The album would be simply named, "Europe '72". Ron was entrenched in redesigning the Ampex MM-1000 16-track audio recorder. Uninterrupted tape recording was limited by the existing transport that accommodated 10" reels. He was transforming the MM-1000 from its flat transport with eight tracks on top and eight tracks below into a video transport that would accommodate larger 14" reels to extend recording time between tape changes. He planned to redesign it to 30ips to improve the sound quality and reduce the drop-out rate. More details about this are in my Taper's Handbook.

Lastly, I would add that, in addition to what LiA wrote: sometimes on tapes you'll hear what sounds like the crew messing around with levels on the SBD at the beginning of shows. To me, it sounds like sometimes they exaggerated levels up and down -- to do "sound-checks" on the various mics, amps, pickups, and vocals -- to make sure stuff is working properly at the start of the show. The result is that the mix is somewhat out-of-whack during these "testing-mix" and "sound-check" moments.

This post was modified by Monte B Cowboy on 2012-09-13 15:39:53

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Poster: N Hoey Date: Sep 12, 2012 10:02pm
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: Tape-flips (probably a stoopid question)

Listen, there are too many variables and subtleties to explain each and every cut accurately and with certainty.

The most common analog tape side length was technically 45 mins. Usually there was a minute or two extra in reality.

!st sets almost always were separate songs, often two together, but mostly shorter performance segments. Tapers nearly always paused the deck between songs because the band would mess around for minutes tuning and preparing for the next track early in the set. The idea behind pausing was to preserve tape. BUT NO MATTER HOW much you tried it was IMPOSSIBLE to know, for sure, when to flip as you neared the end of the side to avoid a cut. If you see a cut in a song at 40 mins from the start of the set, this is what could explain it:
A. The deck was not paused and the tape ran out at 45-46 mins. LATER when copied, the long breaks between songs were THEN edited, which reduced the playing time to the spot where the cut happened by 5 mins.
B. The deck was paused, but only a little and the editing later still shortened it by 5 minutes.

Other times, despite careful pausing and highly stressful judgement calculations, the way the show went resulted in a cut song.

2nd sets were in certain respects easier IF, the band played with few if any stoppages all the way thru drums for 40+ minutes and Space began after a quick flip assuming it was clear to the audience that drums were done. However they sometimes would play, say, a Scarlet/Fire and stop then a Ship of Fools, stop AND THEN begin a Estimated/Eyes or Playing etc which then might take 45+ mins to get to drums/space. So despite there being some element of predictability, it was NOT certainty. So even masterful guessers could get it wrong. Add in being high, crowd distractions, FOB concerns about security and being caught creating more stress about fiddling with the gear too much, the darkness, etc and there were many ways cuts could happen.

Sometimes a stoned freak crashing thru the crowd might suddenly appear and step on the backpack with the deck in it and shut it off. Whenever you see a cut that does not align timewise with 45 mins, it is most often because of post production edits. But it might be because of a 30 or 60 minute side length and also some edits, or not. Plenty of possibilities.

You simply cannot assume when listening to a particular source, the absolutely certain reason for a cut found in it. There are more common and less common reasons. Some are easier to determine with reasonable certainty and others are not.

Bottom line is they are what they are, and the exact reason matters little now. Whether it was expert work but bad luck that night or an unforced error no longer matters.